Minnesota Appellate Court Decisions on Redistricting Local Governments

County Commissioner Districts

State ex rel. Norwood v. Holden, 45 Minn. 313, 47 N.W. 971 (1891)

Redistricting is prospective only with regard to election of members of the board of county commissioners. A member of the county board is not deprived of his right to the office for the remainder of the term because a redistricting plan is adopted that puts him into a district different from the one from which he was elected.

State ex rel. Childs v. Marr, 65 Minn. 243, 68 N.W. 8 (1896)

Repeal of a special law under which county commissioners were elected does not create vacancies in their offices to be filled by appointment. Rather, new members must be elected at the next general election. The previously-elected members continue to serve until their successors have been elected and qualified.

State ex rel. Douglas v. Wilder, 75 Minn. 547, 78 N.W. 83 (1899)

An entire new board of county commissioners must be elected at the first election held after a county is redistricted and the number of its commissioner districts is increased from three to five.

State ex rel. Blink v. Cooke, 195 Minn. 101, 262 N.W. 163 (1935)

Proviso that no city of the second class shall be in more than two commissioner districts is not unconstitutional. "The second-class cities of this state are in counties essentially rural in character, and in our opinion the Legislature was justified in its classification of these counties for the purpose of preventing the urban population from dominating them and from governing the counties and possibly from expending county funds wholly or principally in the interest of the cities within their boundaries. * * * No provision in our Constitution requires apportionment of commissioner districts according to population."

State ex rel. Laurisch v. Pohl, 214 Minn. 221, 8 N.W.2d 227 (1943)

Requirement that county board redistrict the county whenever 30 percent or more of the population of the county is in one district is mandatory. Mandamus sets in motion the exercise of the commissioners' discretion but does not attempt to control the particular manner in which the duty is to be performed. The redistricting must be completed within a reasonable time after the census count is available.

State ex rel. Laurisch v. Johnson, 216 Minn. 219, 12 N.W.2d 343 (1943)

Writ of prohibition is not available to stop district court from holding county board in contempt for failure to redistrict the county as ordered by the writ of mandamus approved in State ex rel. Laurisch v. Pohl.

State ex rel. South St. Paul v. Hetherington, 240 Minn. 298, 61 N.W.2d 737 (1953)

Mandamus is appropriate where the county board has abused its discretion in drawing new districts. Bringing largest district to just under 30 percent of population of county is not sufficient if districts can be made more equal. Where county board adopted redistricting plan containing gross disparities of population, but petitioner failed to show that the gross disparity was avoidable, petitioner had not proved a violation of the statute, but case was remanded to take additional evidence on whether gross disparities were avoidable.

Hanlon v. Towey, 274 Minn. 187, 142 N.W.2d 741 (1966)

Provision of Minn. Stat. 375.02 that limits cities of the second, third, and fourth class to two representatives on the county board violates the "one person, one vote" principle of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and art. I, 2 of the Minnesota Constitution.

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Last Update:  November 10, 2011 (tsb)